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AGRIBUSINESS: USDA Conservation Service

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USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest $59 million in the Mississippi River basin this year.

The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which reduces nutrient and sediment run-off, covers more than 640 small watersheds across 13 states. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Mississippi River Basin is an example of how voluntary conservation practices in small watersheds can help improve a larger system. He says the combined efforts of producers, partners and other state and federal agencies have resulted in significant progress toward reducing nitrogen and sediment runoff in the Mississippi River Basin.

Through cooperative conservation partnerships - NRCS works with hundreds of local organizations and conservation experts to focus funds to help the greater efforts of water quality improvements in the river. According to the NRCS conservation effects assessment project - previous conservation on cropland in the upper river basin reduced edge-of-water sediment losses by about 61%, nitrogen by 20% and phosphorus by 44%.